Tigers roll to first-round home win against Southside Selma, 45-14

Published 11:07 pm Friday, November 10, 2023

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Straughn scored the final 38 points of the game and posted a 45-14 home win over Southside Selma in the first round of the AHSAA 3A state football playoffs Friday night.

Grant Barnes fights for extra yardage during a rushing play for the Tigers. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)


Head Coach Ashley Kilcrease felt his team took possessions away early in the game.

“That was big to win our playoff game tonight. We have a pretty good football team, and Southside had been scoring a ton of points on people. We shut them down after their first two possessions. Brenden and the onside kicks were phenomenal, and he executed that absolutely perfectly. I was so proud of our kickoff team after we worked on that all week. Layne had a great night running, and our offensive and defensive lines did a great job tonight. We are not done yet and are going to keep fighting,” Kilcrease said.

The Tigers improved to 10-1 on the season and earned their first playoff win since 2015. The Panthers finished the year at 7-4.

Parker Black goes full steam ahead and picks up a first down. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Straughn began the game at its own 44-yard line as Grantham had a 13-yard run for a first down. Grant Barnes followed with a 28-yard run to the Southside 15. Three plays later on third-and-7, Grantham went to the air and found Saxby Radford for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Bartholomew added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 10:09 left in the opening quarter.

Eli Guilford recovered an ensuing onside kick attempt, but the Tigers had to punt. Starting at the 23-yard line, Derick Smith had a 34-yard pass to Erick Smith at the home 43. Marquarius Reese then earned a pair of first-down runs. After Connor Palmer forced fourth-and-6 with a tackle, Reese threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to D. Smith. The two-point conversion failed, but the Panthers cut the deficit to 7-6 at the 5:11 mark.

Grantham opened the next drive with a 28-yard run for a first down before a fumble. Reese moved the chains with a 27-yard pass as Charlie Jordan made a crucial tackle. Reese then found the end zone from 25 yards out and gave Southside its first lead at 14-7 with a successful two-point try at the 1:33 point. Straughn was unable to move the ball and punted on the final play of the first.

Brenden Bartholomew follows through on his 32-yard field goal. He finished the game six-for-six in PAT’s and also converted several successful onside kick attempts. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Mack McIntyre recovered a fumble on the next defensive possession at the visiting 26-yard line. The Tigers broke even on just two plays when Grantham had a 20-yard touchdown run. Bartholomew’s extra point made the score 14-14 with 10:17 remaining until halftime. The Panthers were stunned when Parker Black recovered another onside kick. Grantham pushed the lead to 21-14 with a 47-yard touchdown run, and Bartholomew booted another PAT with 9:46 to go in the second.

Dylon Smith and Clark Gay delivered big tackles on defense and helped force Southside into a three-and-out on its next drive. Straughn started at midfield and received an 8-yard run by Grantham before Barnes had a 9-yard run for a first down. Barnes capped the five-play drive with a 26-yard touchdown run, and Bartholomew split the uprights for a 28-14 lead with 4:09 to go until the break.

Cade Pittman took another onside kick attempt at the visiting 36. The Panthers looked for a stop on fourth-and-4 but never got it when an offsides penalty resulted in a first down. Black then found an opening and raced 14 yards inside the red zone. After two incomplete passes and a holding call, Bartholomew hit a 32-yard field goal as the Tigers took a 31-14 lead at halftime.

Barnes sparked the home crowd with a fumble recovery on the initial play of the second half. Straughn rolled the dice on fourth-and-3 and saw it pay off with a first-down carry from Barnes. Three plays later, Grantham followed his offensive line’s efficient blocking and scored a 42-yard touchdown run. Bartholomew remained perfect on extra points and took the lead to 38-14 with 7:15 remaining in the third. Reese had a 19-yard run to the home 38 on the next drive before M.J. Dauphin delivered a nifty tackle. After Palmer delivered a sack, Southside turned the ball over on downs when Cameron Adams broke up a pass.

The Tigers earned two first downs on their ensuing possession, but a fumble thwarted the drive. Reese came up with a 54-yard run to the 7-yard line before the quarter ended. Ryan Cobb and Dauphin then came up with a tackle and helped the defense keep the Panthers out of the end zone. Straughn started its next drive pinned deep at the 6-yard line, but Adams opened up some breathing room with a first-down run for 18 yards. Two plays later, Grantham received more strong blocking by his offensive linemen and hit pay dirt from 59 yards. Bartholomew converted his sixth PAT for a 45-14 lead with 5:44 to go. Dauphin delivered a huge sack and tackle for loss on third down as Southside punted.

After the Tigers turned the ball over on downs, the Panthers moved the ball into opposing territory before Pittman had an interception.

Straughn will host Thomasville (9-1) in a second-round matchup on Friday, Nov. 17.

“Thomasville is a really good football team, but we are confident in our football team and excited about the opportunity to be at home next week,” Kilcrease said.